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Is It Safe to Kiss Your Dog?

puppy kissing baby blogIt’s hard to resist a smooch from you sweet pooch. Some dogs are definitely lickers, and many owners welcome this display of affection. But, is it safe to let your dog lick your face?

Disease Transmission

It’s not true that dogs have cleaner mouths than humans do. In actuality, canines have hundreds of bacteria in their mouths and disease transmission between dog and human is possible (although the risk is relatively low). A bacterium called Pasteurella can cause an infection if it comes into contact with a person’s open sore. Parasites that are sometimes present in a dog’s stool, like giardia, can also pose a danger if an infected dog licks himself and then his human. Although the likelihood of disease transmission in this matter is not particularly high, it is possible.

Who Should Take Extra Care?

Anyone with a compromised immune system, including people undergoing chemotherapy and diabetics, would be better off avoiding doggie kisses. Pregnant women, the elderly, and anyone with an open wound should also probably steer clear.

Other Risks

Dog bites are also a concern when you get too close to a dog’s face. Even the friendliest of dogs can sometimes interpret this behavior as an invasion of personal space and feel threatened. This is of particular concern with children, so it’s important to educate kids about respecting a dog’s space.

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Heather March 18, 2015, 7:20 pm

    Oh No! My dogs have been licking my wounds for years. My immune system isn’t compromised, but maybe it’s made stronger by my doggies. 🙂

  • Cati Brown April 9, 2015, 8:24 am

    I LOVE sharing the affection with our dogs and others and have done it for years without any problems. I think they enjoy it too!

  • Rhonda Rogers June 10, 2015, 7:04 am

    I kiss my dogs, and they return my affection. 🙂

  • Barnaby Wilde June 10, 2015, 7:30 am

    I am 67 years old. I am not a physician (it’s my younger brother who is), so I cannot give any medical advice. All I can say is that, for all my life, I have kissed every dog who has offered me a kiss, and I have no known allergies, and I could count the number of times in my life that I have been sick in bed on my fingers, probably on the fingers of one hand.
    I am sure that there are risks associated with kissing dogs but, for me, I believe the risks are counterbalanced by the stress-relieving, mood-elevating, and antidepressant effects of doggie kisses.
    It has definitely been shown that exposure to small quantities of allergens can desensitize a person to those allergens, and, again, this is not based upon any professional medical training, I believe that exposure to small quantities of bacteria or other infectants allow the immune system to develop antibodies to those infectants without being overwhelmed.
    All of that may be false, but it would be consistent with my lack of allergies and my apparent resistance to illnesses.
    I wonder if doggie kisses might be behind the fact that I haven’t had a headache in 40 years.
    Don’t do anything that you feel is unsafe, but for me, if a dog is feeling so good that he wants to kiss me, he is probably healthy enough for me to kiss him back.
    P.S.: If I die of a doggie kiss, I’ll let you know!

  • Margaret Scarcille June 10, 2015, 12:51 pm

    Anyone who ever owned a Boston Terrier knows that it is their MO.

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